NWAC Encourages Indigenous Women’s Leadership in Disaster Risk Reduction as BC Wildfires Continue

July 19, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is mindful of the great risk to the safety of Indigenous women, girls, transgender, and Two-Spirit people as wildfires continue to encroach on populated areas of British Columbia. In addition to great concern for the safety of communities at risk of fire and those currently under evacuation, NWAC recognizes the hardships facing those returning to their homes and those who have lost theirs.

“Hundreds, if not thousands, of Indigenous women and girls’ lives will be affected by this,” commented NWAC President Francyne D. Joe. “Natural disasters are more likely to kill women than men and this disparity is amplified by socio-economic status. Statistically, this means that First Nation women on-reserve are in the most danger.”

President Joe represented the voice of First Nations and Métis women at the Marrakech Climate Change Conference in November of 2016 and NWAC continues to participate in the processes of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). As recognized by the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, Indigenous women hold traditional ecological knowledge that is vital to the success of disaster preparedness efforts.

“As global temperatures rise, we can expect that more fires will threaten the security of our people,” continued Joe. “Women are most often the ones caring for elderly persons and children and, largely for this reason, are the last to evacuate when natural disasters strike.”

“This nation cannot afford to omit Indigenous women from participation in efforts to address climate change. Indigenous women’s strong capabilities, intimate knowledge of their communities’ needs, and close connection to the land make them ideal candidates to guide and implement emergency measures that protect their homes, their economies, and lives,” said Joe. “I encourage every level of government and every community to champion Indigenous women’s unique perspectives and support our leadership in this area.”

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For more information, please contact:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel: 613-722-3033 ext. 223
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

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NWAC Identifies Key Priorities for Supporting Indigenous Women and Girls at Council of Federation

July 19, 2017 (Edmonton, AB) – Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) President Francyne D. Joe addressed the Council of Federation (COF) on Monday regarding the importance of including  NWAC in all Nation-to-Nation discussions, the work of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (National Inquiry) in the scope of improving the socio-economic status of Indigenous women, and the need for a community-based prevention model to drive the child welfare system in all regions.

Hosted by Premier Rachel Notley, the Council of Federation includes all 13 provincial and territorial premiers and meets bi-annually and usually includes five National Indigenous Organizations (NIOs) in the summer meeting.

President Joe recommended that provinces and territories engage and support Indigenous women and the organizations advocating for them, using the support that Kathleen Wynne has provided to the Ontario Native Women’s Association as an example.  “The creation of permanent bilateral mechanisms between the Office of the Prime Minister and 3 of the NIOs recognizes racial discrimination as distinct but does not include a gendered lens,” said Joe.  “The marginalization of Indigenous women from the national discourse can be remedied on a provincial and territorial level through mindful action such as supporting our Provincial and Territorial Membership Associations (PMTAs); we’ve now offered to facilitate the forging of these alliances.”

NWAC identified the need to engage First Nations and Metis women on the grassroots level in order to better understand their distinct priorities and generate strong outcome measurements for the socio-economic empowerment of Indigenous women.  “Women, girls, transgender, and Two-Spirit Indigenous people need to be free from the disproportionate threat of violence in order to achieve equality,” stated Joe.  “This is one of the ways in which the recommendations of the National Inquiry will support socio-economic advancement.”

Urging action on the dire crisis within the child welfare system, Joe provided the following message during a post-meeting press conference on Monday.   “We need to support Cindy Blackstock and Jordan’s Principle. We do hope to have more support from the Premiers at some point so we can ensure that this government follows through [on delivering] equity for our children.”

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For more information, please contact:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel: 613-722-3033 ext. 223
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

 

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Francyne D. Joe Receives 3-Year Mandate from NWAC Annual General Assembly

July 17, 2017 (Edmonton, AB) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) would like to thank Ministers, Senators, Elders, Youth, delegates, and observers for supporting NWAC at its the 43rd Annual General Assembly (AGA).  The event, held on Treaty 6 territory in Edmonton, Alberta from July 15th to 16th, 2017, resulted in the election of Francyne D. Joe as President.

Over 120 attendees were welcomed by Alberta’s Minister of Indigenous Relations, the Honourable Richard Feehan, who recognized Indigenous women’s exclusion from the Nation-to-Nation relationship and stressed the need for Indigenous women’s expert voices in leadership.

NWAC Western Elder Roberta Moses, NWAC President Francyne D. Joe, and former NWAC National Youth Rep Nikki Fraser all hail from British Columbia.

Keynote speaker and Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) Carolyn Bennett reiterated her support of the implementation of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and pledged to work alongside NWAC in developing measurable outcomes for the successful empowerment of Indigenous women and girls, identifying the need for services for Indigenous people to be delivered by Indigenous people as a key element in that work.

INAC Minister Bennett presented on the Saturday.

Two former NWAC Presidents, Commissioner Michèle Audette and Dr. Jeannette Corbiere Lavell, enlightened attendees with updates from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (National Inquiry) and an appeal to support the Senate’s proposed amendments to Bill S-3 known as 6(1)(a) all the way, respectively.

Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, Senator Lillian Dyck, gave an update on Bill S-3 and the removal of sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act and outlined her reasons for drafting Bill S-215: An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sentencing for violent offenses against Aboriginal women).

One of the most vocal supporters of addressing the effect of racial and sex-based discrimination through law and policy in the House of Commons, Senator Kim Pate, drew strong parallels between the root causes of the over-incarceration of Indigenous women and those contributing to the disappearances and murders of Indigenous women and girls.  For immediate action, she called on communities to claim responsibility for rehabilitating or sponsoring women in their own communities.

Senator Kim Pate provided context for pressing issues concerning Indigenous women and girls on the Sunday.

“Thank you to everyone involved in this year’s AGA for sharing your time with us in order to help build a better future for the next generation of Indigenous women,” said Joe.  “Being joined by so many powerful people reassures me that recognition of the need for the voices of those with the lived experiences of Indigenous women to shape the way that this nation addresses the issues that affect us is growing. “

NWAC delegates brought healing to the space with drumming and song.

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For more information, please contact:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel: 613-722-3033 ext. 223
lgroulx@nwac.ca

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NWAC Joins the Call for a Restructure of the National Inquiry into MMIWG

July 11, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – Following the resignation of Commissioner Marilyn Poitras yesterday, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is joining the call to restructure the current process of the National Public Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (National Inquiry) and concentrate on delivering a Families First model.  After lobbying for an Inquiry for more than a decade, NWAC is committed to the successes, outcomes, and legacy of a National Inquiry.

“This process has lost its focus on those who are impacted by the loss of loved ones and on honouring the lives of Indigenous women,” observed NWAC Interim President Francyne D. Joe.  “The departure of a Commissioner, immediately following the resignation of the Executive Director, is a clear indication that there are unresolved structural issues occurring at the highest levels. It’s time to give families the barrier-free process they deserve.”

Ten months into the National Inquiry’s timeline, the Commissioners must now accept the responsibility of building a new model.   It is NWAC’s belief that the National Inquiry must be correct fundamental issues in its framework and assures families that this kind of course correction was successfully adopted by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“The National Inquiry spent months getting advice from families and international human rights bodies and this is not reflected in its structure,” said Joe.  “We need to see the implementation of a trauma-informed process with a human rights-based approach.  There has to be a direct departure from the legalistic approach we’ve seen in the allocation of funds and multiple bureaucratic barriers to the participation of families, such as the inadequate availability of support and resources available to those wishing to participate and the needlessly intense vetting process.”

NWAC supports the implementation of the recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the report of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in all the procedures of this Inquiry, particularly creating mechanisms to order independent reviews of individual cases where there are outstanding concerns about the adequacy of police investigations.

“Trust from families is the only meaningful source of credibility and confidence in the National Inquiry,” concluded Joe. “The consequences of this cannot be the burden of grieving families.”

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For more information, please contact:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel: 613-722-3033 ext. 223
lgroulx@nwac.ca

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NWAC Welcomes Announcement of More Hearings to be Held by the National Inquiry into MMIWG

July 6, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is continuing its work in seeking accountability from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (National Inquiry) as they announce a preliminary schedule of hearings.  Chief Commissioner Buller’s comments at a press conference held today also included reassurances that their work is proceeding quickly, that they are confident in having material for their interim report in November, and that they will be requesting an extension of their timeline and the funds to support the additional work.

“Commissioner Buller’s informational statements today were needed but I feel that an opportunity was missed in addressing the departure of senior staff, including Michele Moreau,” offered Interim President Francyne D. Joe.  “The announcement of an Interim Executive Director and other details about who will replace Director Moreau would demonstrate to families and communities that they have planned and prepared for any resignations and are capable of moving quickly to continue momentum.  It would tell us that there is someone overseeing this strategy and executing the schedule families are depending on.”

Although NWAC has been informed by the Inquiry that they have received training to ensure that all aspects of the Inquiry are performed in a trauma-informed manner, NWAC encourages its full application when addressing the public.  This includes a comfort level when speaking about the LGTBQ2S+ community, sensitivity to the needs of families in relation to the Inquiry’s expediency in holding Community Hearings of the Truth Gathering Process (Community Hearings), and mindfulness of the impact of body language and tone on messages being delivered.

In a letter being sent to National Inquiry leadership today, NWAC formally requests a list of the regional organizations informing the Community Relations team as they draft specific cultural protocols for each area in which Community Hearings are held.  As outlined in the second of two Report Cards under Terms of Reference numbers 3, 7, and 10, NWAC believes that publically listing the organizations hosting, welcoming, advising the Inquiry, and providing family supports is necessary in order to ensure transparency and give other groups the opportunity to make additional recommendations.

“We will keep asking for what we feel honours the Families First model, including important information like which legal and human resources supports are available to families as they register,” finished Joe.  “We’d also like to see the organizational elements stabilize so that the National Inquiry may maintain and build on its existing institutional knowledge.”

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For more information, please contact:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel: 613-722-3033 ext. 223
lgroulx@nwac.ca

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NWAC Calls for Strong Indigenous Leadership as Executive Director Resigns from Inquiry into MMIWG

July 1 (Ottawa, ON) – As its Executive Director plans her withdrawal from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (National Inquiry), the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) maintains a vested interest in its success and continues to have numerous concerns as it reaches its tenth month of operation today. In a statement released via the National Inquiry last night, former Executive Director Michele Moreau’s departure for personal reasons was met with sadness by the National Inquiry.

Chantale Courcy, who had been functioning as Interim Executive Director before Moreau was hired, accepted a promotion within the Public Service Commission of Canada and officially resigned on June 12th, 2017. She was closely followed by staff member Tanya Kappo, whose association with the Inquiry had sent a positive message about the National Inquiry’s connection with grassroots movements and interest in hiring recognized Indigenous leaders.

“We want assurance that this setback will be dealt with quickly and that a First Nations, Inuit, or Métis woman or two-spirit person is appointed to the position of Executive Director. We need to see leadership that is already known to be strong within the Indigenous community,” stated NWAC Interim President Francyne D. Joe.

The fifth of such departures by staff since the National Inquiry’s launch on September 1st, 2016 is alarming but is not necessarily indicative of deeply problematic issues that can’t be remedied. “The Commissioners must come together to reassure the public that they remain committed to prioritizing the release of a solid timeline and fixing these operational issues once and for all,” commented Joe. As she has stated, a timeline must be released so that families of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) can start planning to tell their loved ones’ stories.

NWAC, who remains deeply invested in the success of the National Inquiry, has listed many of its concerns in its first two quarterly Report Cards, including a lack of transparency and communication from the Inquiry. In an update for families entitled “What’s next for the National Inquiry?”, dated June 19th, 2017, Chief Commissioner Marion Buller confirmed that the Commissioners would be asking for an extension.

Joe hopes to see a positive outcome despite many unsettling developments. “The Executive Director is the hub of operational functions. All of our concerns about adhering to the timeline before and after Community Hearings of the Truth Gathering Process were postponed for the summer are exasperated by the announcement of Moreau’s resignation. It is crucial that the National Inquiry regain operational stability as soon as possible in order to gain confidence from everyone who is invested in its success.”

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For more information, please contact:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel: 613-722-3033 ext. 223
lgroulx@nwac.ca

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National Inquiry into MMIWG Met with National Indigenous Organizations This Week

June 16, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – The national Indigenous organizations (NIOs) assembled in Ottawa yesterday to receive updates on progress and strategies from representatives of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (National Inquiry) including Chief Commissioner Marion Buller and Commissioners Brian Eyolfson, Marilyn Poitras, and Qajaq Robinson. Also in attendance were the Executive Director Michèle Moreau, Director of Communications Bernée Bolton and Director of Community Relations Waneek Horn-Miller.  Commissioner Michèle Audette and Lead Commission Counsel Susan Vella joined the Ottawa assembly via teleconference, Delilah Saunders attended on behalf of the Family Advisory Circle, and Grandmother and Elder Blu Waters provided opening and closing addresses. The meeting was co-chaired by Jean Teillet on behalf of the NIOs and Commissioner Marilyn Poitras on behalf of the National Inquiry.

The meeting was held in response to a joint letter from the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP), Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), Pauktuutit and Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak (Women of the Métis Nation/WMN) expressing dissatisfaction with the degree of their involvement, disappointment with the lack of information received from the National Inquiry to date, and offering renewed support. Joined today by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the leadership of the NIOs sat down for the first face-to-face meeting between the NIOs and the National Inquiry since an informal meet and greet in February.

Some updates on work plans and the Inquiry’s communications strategy were shared.  Highlights of the discussions and shared commitments include:

  • The development of an agreed upon schedule of meetings and milestones, including face-to-face meetings of this group on a quarterly basis. One Commissioner will join biweekly teleconferences with the NIOs and more formalized frameworks such as Memoranda of Understanding the individual NIOs will be determined as required;
  • That work plans and schedules of community, institutional, and expert hearings would be shared well in advance; and
  • A shared commitment to work to include small, remote and isolated communities and hard to reach families and individuals through appropriate and relevant communication that is rooted in Indigenous culture and languages.The meeting concluded with an understanding and agreement that trust must be rebuilt between the National Inquiry and families and survivors, NIOs and other indigenous organizations and the general public.  NIOs in attendance expressed relief that the National Inquiry recognizes their value in this process and are poised to take action in embracing the expertise, experience, and outreach capabilities of their organizations. Barring the possibility of discussing all of the proposed agenda items in one afternoon, a commitment was made to meet again by teleconference in two weeks to conclude these discussions. The NIOs look forward to receiving information about the work plans, specific commitments as to the frequency of updates, and further meetings with the National Family Advisory Circle. The establishment of an Inuit Nunangat Advisory Committee will be prioritized and act as key advisors to the National Inquiry. A calendar of truth gathering hearings will be posted online and shared by other means as soon as possible in order to allow families and communities time to prepare.

“I look forward to strengthening relationships of trust and sharing with the organizations,” said Chief Commissioner Marion Buller.

Chief Commissioner Marion Buller, National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Robert Bertrand, National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples

Francyne Joe, Interim President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada

Rebecca Kudloo, President of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada

Melanie Omeniho, President of the Women of the Métis Nation

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For more information, please contact:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel: 613-722-3033 ext. 223
lgroulx@nwac.ca

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PRESS RELEASE: NWAC Partners with ESDC to Develop an Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework

May 31, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) –In recognition of the continued impact of colonization on the way Indigenous children experience care and education, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is partnering with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to develop an Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework that will ensure culturally-appropriate child care that is reflective of the unique needs of First Nations and Métis children and families.

Many low-income Indigenous families are currently excluded from accessing high-quality child care services.  Without the availability of other affordable options, children are placed into care that mimics an institutionalized environment and supports a continued process of colonization and assimilation.

Children with disabilities are not properly supported, culturally-appropriate care is not available, and understaffed facilities create a lack of capacity.

The delivery of quality early learning techniques and child care is central to the healthy development and a strong determining factor of children’s future success.  In relationship to the stark contrast between the realities faced by Indigenous children and the necessary steps towards reconciliation, NWAC Interim President Francyne D. Joe offers the following:

“It is unacceptable that Indigenous children continue to receive poorer services than the non-Indigenous children of Canada.  Our culture recognizes the value of each individual and celebrates their gifts in a way that gives our children a strong sense of self-worth and belonging; their childhoods are incomplete without learning these values and practicing these traditions.   We look forward to working with Employment and Social Development Canada on co-developing an Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework that will create a place of learning that foster pride in our children and sets them on an early path to success.”

NWAC and ESDC have already begun grassroots engagement with Indigenous women to gain insight into positive change that can help shape the development of the Framework. Family members, communities, early childhood educators, and experts have been engaged through online surveys and roundtable sessions across the country.

Today, ESDC continues their online engagement process as it launches a new program aimed at hearing the stories and recommendations from Indigenous people across the country on early learning and child care. NWAC encourages Indigenous women who use early learning and child care programs to share their stories and ideas in English, French, or Indigenous languages until the session closes in July of 2017.

For more information or to participate in the online engagement session with the Government of Canada, visit the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care engagement process web page here.

To complete NWAC’s online engagement survey, click here.

To learn more about the engagement sessions and to learn more about the final report click here.

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NWAC Interim President Francyne D. Joe Introduces the 2nd Inquiry Into MMIWG Report Card

Dear Families, Communities, Stakeholders, and Commissioners,

On behalf of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, I would like to present our second Report Card assessing the success of the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Women and Girls in fulfilling its responsibilities over the past three months.

NWAC has a history of working with families of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and creating networks of families through a series of projects such as Family Gatherings, Narrative and Digital Storytelling, Sisters In Spirit Vigils, and its premiere research.  We feel a deep responsibility to the families and communities who are at the heart of our work and remain dedicated to producing results and taking actions that we hope can begin to fulfill our duty to the Indigenous women and girls whose interests we represent.

In order to provide feedback that is strength-based, solution-focused, and productive, fairness must be our primary concern.  We have acknowledged our personal connections to this work and applied a critical eye to eliminating any emotional reactions from this document.  Our last Report Card, drafted with minimal information from the Inquiry, called for transparency, communication, and a process that is trauma-informed and culturally sensitive.  It is now our solemn task to identify the areas where this Inquiry has failed and once again appeal to have families come first and for NWAC to be meaningfully consulted in a process in which we are deeply invested.

We are not asking anyone, especially families, to be patient with this Inquiry as it progresses. We are asking that you remain strong and face adversity with the same determination that has made this Inquiry possible. In solidarity, we will not back down until this Inquiry is what we were promised.  To the families and communities, this is your Inquiry to shape and your opportunity to share your stories.  To the stakeholders, this is a chance for healing as a nation and a vital step in the process of decolonization and reconciliation.  To the Commissioners and staff of the Inquiry, the great challenge presented by this work is an impetus to incredible growth and possibility.

I urge you to find your voice in holding this Inquiry accountable and to continue to join us in advocating for a process that reflects our shared values, hopes, and dreams.  We need you to keep writing and signing letters to the Inquiry, holding your own community gatherings, and speaking to the media in order for your stories to be told and your positions to be known. It is my hope that our shared focus may result in an outcome that honours our MMIWG in the way that they deserve and contributes to a future free from violence for the Indigenous women and girls we love.

Sincerely,

Francyne Joe

Interim President, Native Women’s Association of Canada

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NWAC Stresses the Importance of Reporting Sexual Harassment & Assault During SAPM

May 12, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is observing Sexual Assault Prevention Month (SAPM) by voicing its support for the brave Indigenous women and girls who report sexual harassment and assault.  Despite the multiple barriers Indigenous women and girls face in reporting these incidents, there is increasing public awareness of the importance of documenting these occurrences and pursuing legal action against perpetrators.

NWAC is currently working at the policy level to empower Indigenous women to come forward by supporting legislation like Bill S-215, which would require a court to consider a woman’s race and gender to be an ‘aggravating factor’ when sentencing of violent offenders who have committed a crime of a sexual nature against an Indigenous woman.  NWAC’s Violence Prevention & Safety department also provides resources for women addressing domestic violence.

However, NWAC Interim President Francyne D. Joe stresses the importance of individual actions in compelling change. “The spectrum of what is considered sexual violence covers everything from harassment, which is a violation of human rights, to sexual assault, which is a criminal act.  It’s important to report harassing and inappropriate comments or actions so that individual cases may be dealt with and to provide accurate data which reflects how pervasive sexual harassment is.  This is a crucial step towards prevention.”

“It’s especially hard to come forward when you’re not sure what happened or are worried you might need to defend the choices you made to find yourself in a bad situation,” Joe offers in regards to reporting sexual assault to the police. “NWAC wants Indigenous women and girls to know that no one is responsible for their own sexual assault.  We’re continuing to make recommendations for positive changes to police intake operations that are culturally sensitive and eliminate processes that support victim-blaming.  The healing process between Indigenous communities and the police has just begun.”

NWAC encourages Indigenous women to know their rights through resources such as the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s policy on preventing sexual and gender-based harassment and share this knowledge with their loved ones.  Women and girls who are experiencing or have experienced abuse are advised to seek help and support with those they trust and, if they feel safe doing so, to call the police.

“The launch of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the announcement of a $100 million investment in developing and implementing a Federal Strategy to Address Gender-based Violence reinforce NWAC’s message; Indigenous women are loved and valued,” Joe continues.  “We will no longer be forced to silently suffer the burdens of colonial structures put in place to rob us of our power.  We will stand up as a nation and as individuals to reclaim our rights.”

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For more information, please contact:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel: 613-722-3033 ext. 223
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

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NWAC Announces Mother’s Day Awareness & Fundraising Campaign

April 24, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – In recognition of the special gifts our mothers share with their children and their communities, the Native Women’s Association of Canada invites individuals to celebrate a mother in their life with a Maxine Noel Not Forgotten scarf.  Launched on Friday, the “Make NWAC a Part of Your Family This Mother’s Day” campaign will showcase the scarf as a thoughtful, practical gift for mothers that will help them show their recognition of the strength, resiliency, and value of Indigenous women.

“As the national advocate for First Nations and Métis women, we are always increasing awareness of the ways that policy and legislation can be changed to improve the lives of Indigenous women living in Canada,” NWAC Interim Francyne D. Joe reflects.  “We do this work in recognition of the power women and girls have to support their communities, pass on their cultural beliefs and values, and shape the future.”

NWAC has been vending gifts featuring Noel’s work since the Dakota Sioux artist donated her Not Forgotten artwork in 2016.  “The world we all live and move in, is a place of great and terrible beauty, of wonder, and of tragedy,” says Noel of her series honouring the missing and murdered women of the Indigenous community.  “Our women are our heart and our spirit, always honoured, never forgotten”

“I wear the Not Forgotten scarf to many of my engagements and have found it a valuable tool in starting conversations about the terrifying numbers of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls as well as respectful ways of honouring their lives,” observes Joe.  “This Mother’s Day, we’re promoting the scarf as a gift that has meaning and is a part of growing social awareness.  It’s colourful, beautiful, and bright, just like our proud adoptive, biological, and step mothers.”

All proceeds from sales of the Not Forgotten scarves go towards NWAC’s work and may be purchased from the NWAC website.

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For more information, please contact:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel: 613-722-3033 ext. 223
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

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NWAC Celebrates International Women’s Day at the National Indigenous Women’s Summit

March 8, 2017 (Toronto, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) Interim President Francyne D. Joe joined other Indigenous women leaders in thanking hosts and welcoming delegates to the fifth National Indigenous Women’s Summit (NIWS) on Monday, saying “It is essential to the success of reconciliation that Indigenous women determine and develop our own priorities in the areas of health, education, climate change, gender equality, and safety. ”

Taking place through Wednesday, March 8th, International Women’s Day (IWD), NIWS brings together leaders from National Indigenous Organizations (NIOs), Chiefs, Elders, youth leaders, and regional representatives together to be inspired by keynote speakers and artists, network, and workshop solutions to the issues affecting Indigenous women.  NIWS 2017 is hosted by the Province of Ontario and carries the theme of Empowering Indigenous Women Now and In the Future.  The summit culminates today with presentations of the workshop recommendations and responses to those recommendations by federal, provincial, and territorial governments, followed by a press conference.

“This IWD, we celebrate the strength of Indigenous women, our contributions to our communities, and the acknowledgment of the wisdom, knowledge, and spirit that we have to share.  I am saddened that Indigenous women everywhere continue to live without equal rights by any standards, as well as those of the United Nations.  NWAC will continue to advocate for dignity, respect, and freedom from fear for First Nations and Metis women alongside the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to policy affecting Indigenous women,” Joe stated.

Joe concluded that “NIWS empowers us to explore how we as a collective can make a significant change.  Building off of last year’s recommendations, we are able to create our own strategies for implementing a gendered lens and population-specific applications to the findings put forth by the TRC and UNDRIP.”

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For more information, please contact:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel: 613-722-3033 ext. 223
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

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NWAC Welcomes Corporate Responsibility as Sponsorships Grow

March 7, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – As Indigenous issues including health, education, the environment, and justice dominate the headlines, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is tracking intensified interest in supporting Indigenous women’s issues.  More organizations and businesses are approaching the NWAC with opportunities for sponsorships, speaking engagements, and partnerships.

The song “This Is My Canada,” to be performed by Grammy and Juno-winning artists as well as A-List session musicians from the Toronto region at the Junos, will be donating a portion of the proceeds from its sales to NWAC.  “We’ve received wonderful support from artists like “This Is My Canada” singer/songwriter Jeanette Arsenault and are excited to welcome more Indigenous and non-Indigenous contributions, including performances and revenue shares,” commented NWAC Interim President Francyne D. Joe.

An additional sponsorship opportunity is also fast approaching. “I’m thrilled to invite those who wish to offer their support to NWAC to shop at Simons on International Women’s Day.  Along with three other organizations mandated to support the well-being of women, NWAC will be sharing 10% of Simons’ sales revenues from Wednesday, March 8th, 2017.  This is the kind of brand with which we see many aligned values, such as being community-oriented, celebratory of individuality and uniqueness, and dedicated to treating employees with fairness.”

“Canada treats corporations as recognized entities with their own rights.  More companies are recognizing an opportunity to embrace their status and support reconciliation through sponsoring our work,” added NWAC Executive Director Lynne Groulx.

Joe expanded on the value of sponsorship, saying “A leading national advocate for First Nations and Métis women, sponsors are able to acknowledge their commitment to human rights, gender equality, and ending violence against women through supporting NWAC.  NWAC’s strong social media presence can also give brands an opportunity to reach a very engaged community with their message.”

“I predict that these partnerships will grow and we’ll see more involvement in efforts to improve Indigenous’ women’s lives,” Joe concluded.

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For more information, please contact:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel: 613-722-3033 ext. 223
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NWAC Outlines How to Participate in the National Inquiry into MMIWG & Find Support

March 7, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – Out of respect for the families and communities of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) has resisted relaying information on behalf of the Inquiry.  NWAC has been acting as an independent observer of the Inquiry since its official launch date on September 1st, 2017, and has released a report card detailing its progress.  As time elapses, NWAC feels a responsibility to share vital information regarding how families may participate and what that participation may look like.

It is the primary concern of NWAC that those who wish to participate in the Inquiry are aware that they will not be contacted by the Inquiry without their permission.  In order to extend an invitation to the Inquiry, communities have been directed to email the Inquiry at info@mmiwg-ffada.ca or via PO Box 500, Station A, Vancouver, BC, V6C 2N3.

“The Inquiry has not clarified who is able to invite them to visit their communities, so I encourage all forms of community organizations, leadership, families, and individuals to reach out if they are able to take part,” urged NWAC Interim President Francyne D. Joe.  “NWAC believes that the Inquiry will begin hearing testimonies in May of 2017 and that, given the short timeframe for that first portion of the Inquiry’s activities, northern, rural, and remote communities should extend the invitation as soon as possible so as to ensure their inclusion.  Every story is important and each interested community would be wise to start discussing what supports they will need to participate and ideas for how their community wishes their MMIWG to be honoured.”

It’s expected that the Inquiry will visit communities for a week at a time, creating a space for ceremony and respectful engagement.  The Commissioners will be present in teams of one or more, along with stenographers who will remain after the Commissioners depart.  “It’s important that families know that they can decide how they wish to testify and that, if they are for any reason unable to speak during the Commissioners’ visit, they can still participate,” added Joe.

NWAC would also like to direct families who need emotional support to call the government-funded 24/7 toll-free crisis line at 1-844-413-6649, with the understanding that their support workers are independent of the Inquiry and won’t have any additional information about it.  “The Inquiry has not released their intake process or how they will be applying a trauma-informed lens to their work,” informed Joe, “It is extremely important that no one feel alone or unable to share their feelings.  Indigenous women are loved and valued.”

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For more information, please contact:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel: 613-722-3033 ext. 223
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

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Over 100 Registrants for AWBEN Indigenous Women Entrepreneurs’ Conference

February 20, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is pleased to announce that 116 Aboriginal women have now registered for the 4th annual Aboriginal Women’s Business Entrepreneurship (AWBEN) Conference.  Taking place in Thunder Bay, Ontario March 1st through March 2nd, 2017, participants will be challenged and empowered to explore and develop their entrepreneurial skills.

Funded by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) since 2012, the AWBEN program addresses the unique challenges facing Aboriginal women in starting their own businesses.  AWBEN promotes learning, growth, and networking in a culturally supportive environment, with a focus on sustainable initiatives driven by community leadership.

“AWBEN recognizes that Indigenous women bring unique skills, tenacity, and a strong point of view to the world of business,” observes NWAC Interim President Francyne D. Joe.  “Although there is only space for 100 registrants, this is a free event and not everyone who wants to attend will be able to make it.  I encourage all current and aspiring Aboriginal women entrepreneurs to register so that AWBEN can show the AANDC, the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC), and other potential sources of funding that Indigenous women want and need programs that support and accelerate their careers.  I’d also like to thank event sponsors, Resolute Forest Products and the Bank of Montreal.”

The AWBEN Conference agenda for March 2nd features exciting panelists as well as keynote speakers Patrice Mousseau, Founder of Satya Organics, and actress Ashley Callingbull, Mrs. Universe 2015. “I hope to see a full room all as I make the opening address,” continued Ms. Joe, “this is a chance for Aboriginal women to get inspired, make connections, and exercise their skills alongside their peers.”

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For more information, please contact:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel: 613-722-3033 ext. 223
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

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PRESS RELEASE –Statistics Canada Launches 2017 Aboriginal Peoples Survey

January 16, 2017(Ottawa, ON) – Today, Statistics Canada announced the commencement of the 5th cycle of the 2017 Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS). The survey collects information about First Nations people living off-reserve as well as Métis and Inuit people living throughout Canada.

This year’s theme, “Building Sustainable Futures,” focuses on the education and employment of Aboriginal people aged 15 years and over. Information will be gathered on health, language, income, housing, and mobility. Previous cycles of the APS collected data in 1991, 2001, 2006, and 2012 on the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of Aboriginal populations.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada encourages Aboriginal women who are selected to take the survey to participate, as it provides valuable insights into the employment, skills and training, education, and health of Aboriginal women. This information helps inform policy and programming activities that are aimed at improving the well-being of Aboriginal peoples and is an important source of information for a variety of stakeholders including Aboriginal organizations, communities, service providers, researchers, governments, and the general public.

APS collection takes place between January and June 2017. A Statistics Canada interviewer will be contacting approximately 48,000 First Nations people living off-reserve, as well as Métis and Inuit people, either by telephone or in person. Selection is based on who identified themselves as an Aboriginal or as having Aboriginal ancestry in the 2016 Census of Population for Statistics Canada. The results of the survey will be available in the fall of 2018.

Interim NWAC President Francyne D. Joe describes the numbers resulting from these surveys as “a powerful tool for understanding the needs of individuals and communities. NWAC regularly employs statistics when providing recommendations to the House of Commons, to Committees, and anytime we’re asked to lend our expertise. I urge anyone who is given the opportunity to take the survey to help us get an idea of how existing programs are functioning and which new services, programs, community health and social services, and economic opportunities are necessary to improve the quality of life for Aboriginal women and their communities.”

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies. As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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For more information, please contact:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel: 613-722-3033 ext. 223
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

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CIHR Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health Announces Dr. Carrie Bourassa as New Scientific Director

January 13, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) would like to congratulate Dr. Carrie Bourassa on her appointment as Scientific Director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHRs) Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health. Dr. Bourassa is a member of the Riel Métis Council of Regina Inc. (RMCR, Local #34), who earned her Master of Arts degree in political science and Ph.D. in social studies from the University of Regina.

Chair of Northern & Indigenous Health at the Health Sciences North Research Institute in Sudbury, Dr. Bourassa has worked for 15 years as a professor of Indigenous health studies at the First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) in Regina. A member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada, and the Royal College Council of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, she was previously a member of the CIHR Institutes Advisory Board on Indigenous Peoples’ Health.

Dr. Bourassa will be a leader at CIHR in ensuring better success rates for Indigenous-focused grant applications and developing strategies to train the next generation of Indigenous researchers through capacity building and mentoring.

“Dr. Bourassa’s past work in raising awareness about the impacts of colonization on the health of Indigenous peoples and the need to deliver culturally safe care makes us confident that she will become a strong leader in working towards the health of Indigenous women and girls in Canada,” NWAC Interim President Francyne D. Joe commented.  “Given that Dr. Bourassa has successfully partnered with NWAC’s Pathways PEKE (Partners for Engagement and Knowledge Exchange) in the past, we are very excited to advance future partnerships with herself and the Institute of Aboriginal Peoples Health.”

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For more information, please contact:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel: 613-722-3033 ext. 223
lgroulx@nwac.ca

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NWAC Releases Report Card on the National Inquiry into MMIWG

January 5, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) has released their official Report Card on the activities of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (Inquiry).  Drafted to reflect the success of the Inquiry in meeting its directives and mandates as it progresses, NWAC is employing this tool to provide the public with a comprehensive update and in an effort to participate in and actively impact the operations of the inquiry going forward.

“Families and loved ones of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) were discouraged by the lack of communication from the Inquiry following its official date of establishment on September 1st, 2016.  They deserved to have some communication about how and when they could expect to provide their testimonies,” began NWAC President Francyne D. Joe.  “NWAC wants to have a more active voice in constructing strategies that will protect participants at every step of this journey.  It is essential that the Inquiry be sensitive to the trauma experienced by those being interviewed, that those participants feel welcomed as allies, and that the MMIWG are honoured. Having worked with families and survivors, NWAC has experience and knowledge in this area. We recommend working directly with families in shaping how they will be meaningfully engaged in this process.”

The NWAC President commented further about the Report Card, which is to be released quarterly.  “We’ve been very vocal in our concerns regarding the lack of specific guidelines in the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the Inquiry.  The report card gives us a an opportunity to outline the ways in which the Inquiry is successfully implementing their broader ToRs in the areas we’ve found to be potentially problematic.  These include the identification of and actions to remove systemic causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls at a national and provincial level as well as the ability of participants to pursue or reopen individual cases through the justice system.”

“NWAC encourages the Inquiry to be as transparent as possible and to provide families with the resources necessary to access the Commission.  The intent of this Inquiry is not only to bring some semblance of peace to those close to the MMIWG but also to make every Canadian feel like they are taking part in reconciliation,” Joe concluded. “It is our report’s intent to make it accessible to everyone.”

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CONTACT:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel: 613-722-3033 ext. 223
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

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NWAC Presents on MMIWG Inquiry at IACHR Ahead of International Human Rights Day

December 9, 2016 (Washington, DC) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) appeared alongside the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) today before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).  NWAC Interim President Francyne D. Joe relayed the shared concerns of NWAC and FAFIA regarding the Terms of Reference of the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG).

NWAC has previously found support for its work in raising awareness about issues affecting Indigenous women from the IACHR.  The scrutiny of their reporting applies international pressure on the government of Canada in matters of addressing human rights issues in law and policy.  Their report, entitled ‘Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in British Columbia, Canada,’ was instrumental in petitioning the government to launch the national Inquiry and getting the government to commit funding for a safe public transport option along BC’s Highway 16, commonly referred to as the ‘Highway of Tears.’  

NWAC Interim President Francyne D. Joe reported on NWAC’s participation following her speech at the IACHR.  “We’d like to see the recommendations of the IACHR and the report of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) implemented at every point of this Inquiry, particularly in regards to investigating the systemic causes of violence.  There is deeply entrenched sexual discrimination and racism in policing and the Terms of Reference of the Inquiry contain no mechanism for the independent review of individual cases where there are outstanding concerns over the adequacy or impartiality of police investigations.”  President Joe provided the IACHR commissioners with concrete examples of police discrimination and misconduct, citing the disparaging and racist comments made on social media by a police sergeant in regards to the death of Annie Pootoogook and the abuses of power in Val-d’Or.

“NWAC has direct contact with the communities whose interests we represent.  We can identify omissions in the Terms of Reference that are unique to Indigenous issues, such as how there is no explicit provision made for the accurate translation of the Indigenous languages spoken by the families and friends that will be addressing the Inquiry.  We have an understanding of women’s needs and the tools they need to care for themselves and their families. We hope that the IACHR’s recommendations will include the need to meaningfully consult with NWAC going forward,” President Joe continued.

“I’m grateful to have the aid of the IACHR in raising awareness about our work and find this a fitting end to our participation in the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women as we recognize International Human Rights Day on December 10th,” NWAC Interim President Joe concluded.

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CONTACT:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

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NWAC Remains Resolved to End Violence Against Indigenous Women This National Day of Remembrance

December 6, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – On December 6th, 1989, 14 women at the École Polytechnique in Montreal lost their lives at the hands of a lone gunman. Every year on this day, the nation recalls how the biased hatred of one man led to the senseless mass killing of innocent women. Sadly, this tragic event exposed the epidemic of gender-based violence in Canada.

“Today, we commemorate the women who were killed in Montreal for the sole fact that they were female students. It’s a day to consider our actions going forward but also a day to contemplate what we’ve accomplished so far,” reflected NWAC Interim President Francyne Joe.

In 2012, NWAC was gathering signatures demanding an inquiry into the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, declaring it a “crucial step in implementing a comprehensive and coordinated national action plan to address the scale and severity of violence faced by Aboriginal women and girls.” In 2015, leadership expressed that NWAC was looking forward to working closely with the new government, continuing to consult with the families and survivors of those impacted, and taking action to end systemic violence against Indigenous women after the Liberal government announced that a national inquiry would be established.

“Looking back, I see that we haven’t come as far as we’d hoped. There was no justice delivered for the Indigenous women of Val-d’Or who were sexually assaulted and we once again need to establish an inquiry; this time in the province of Quebec,” began President Joe. “The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls has failed to open the lines of communication with families or survivors of victims, we have limited involvement in the Inquiry, and we won’t begin to see movement from the Inquiry until the spring of 2017.”

“We will not be disheartened. We will continue to speak for victims suffering in silence, to root out systemic gender and race-based violence at the source by challenging problematic policies, and to engage in education initiatives that will prepare all youth to treat each other with dignity and respect,” Francyne concluded.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies.  As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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CONTACT:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

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